Saturday, August 19, 2017

Hiding Wires & Electrical Boxes 2

Step one to cover the exposed electrical wires that power the second ceiling light in the kitchen--boards attached to the joist, above and below the wires.


Trim board covering the wires and a half-octagon wrapping the electrical box.


Final piece of trim covering the protruding edge of the electrical box.


Half-octagons and circular trim pieces already made for the last three ceiling lights.


On to the third ceiling light in the kitchen...


Trim board cut and ready for stain.


All three kitchen ceiling lights now trimmed out!


On to the last two lights with exposed electrical wires and boxes--both located in closets.

Also see:

Hiding Wires 1



George--still here, still enjoying his summer, still deaf as a post, turned 18 this month. My sweetie!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Hiding Wires & Electrical Boxes 1

I was having a hard time finishing up the vapor barrier in the bathroom end of the JayBee because I was spending so much time debating the merits of installing a fan in the bathroom. My original plan was not to have a fan in the bathroom because the room has a window and there will be two other fans in the house (over the stove, and the air exchanger in the living room). I mean, really, just how many fans does a tiny house need? But... then I started thinking that it would be unlikely that I would relish the idea of opening the bathroom window after a shower in the middle of winter. And the bathroom is so small, I imagine it could get quite steamy... I ended up deciding that I would rather install a fan now than try to retrofit one later. While the parts were on order...

I moved on to thinking I could start hiding some of the exposed electrical wires. Since the ceiling joists that hold up the two lofts will be exposed, the wires that run along them will be exposed as well, unless I do something to hide them.


I guess it had been awhile since I last used my table saw. Ahem!


I began by ripping some pieces of pine to install above and below the wires on each joist.


Then came the tricky part--figuring out how to enclose the electrical boxes. I began with one that is close to a wall and does not require a full 8-foot piece of trim. I made a half octagon, attached it to a straight board...


...stained it, and installed it.



Then, the final piece--cut...


...stained, and installed.



My goal was to end up with something that would blend in with the joists and not draw attention to itself. I think I accomplished that!


Four more to go!

Also see:

Hiding Wires 2


For those of you who follow my cats more than my housebuilding: I am very sad to report that Bear appears to be gone--as of ten days ago. There are many possible explanations for his disappearance, but I fear the most likely is that a predator snatched him. While I was working in the JayBee this last week, I was listening to the podcast Criminal; the episode about attacks by great horned owls (Animal Instincts) really had me thinking... Anyway, if he miraculously turns up, I will post an update. If he remains gone, I will probably post a memorial gallery of photos at some point. Meanwhile, George is enjoying his summer.

Some mornings, the Kennebec is so fogged in, it looks like the world ends out there. This was one of those mornings.


I looked up from my desk at work one morning this week...and saw this mama deer, and her baby (camouflaged on the right).




I wonder just how much I miss by keeping my nose to the grindstone most of the time!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Vapor Barrier 2

More progress...



Many more hours of podcasts devoured in the process--This American Life, Ear Hustle, and SKS--Someone Knows Something.

Also see:
Vapor Barrier 1

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Vapor Barrier 1

Glorious days! A rainy day--which is fine now that I'm working on the inside of the JayBee. Nice, sunny days--but much cooler than the hot, humid stuff we'd been having. I took full advantage of these cooler days and plugged along with installing the vapor barrier on the interior walls. It is slow going but much more fun than insulating, so I'm able to stick with it for longer. For some reason, playing music wasn't motivating me, so I binge-listened to some podcasts (Dear Sugar Radio and Modern Love) and kept moving.




Also see:
Vapor Barrier 2

Friday, July 21, 2017

Time to Catch Up

I have been lagging in my posts! To catch you up...

I have finally finished installing insulation in the JayBee. It took me way longer than I'd anticipated because...well, everything takes me longer than I anticipate. Plus, I was working around some birds. Yup, birds.

This was the first sign that the birds were taking over. If you look closely, you will see a bird's nest sitting on top of the air exchanger that's above the north side window.


Then, I noticed mud splatters around the front door of the JayBee. And, a partial nest fell to the doorstep.


Not to be deterred, birds quickly finished this nest on top of one of the lights outside the front door.


Every time I went in and out of the JayBee, I had to contend with anxious, dive-bombing parent birds. I worried every time I turned on the compressor that I was traumatizing them. I didn't dare leave the front door open for air flow because I thought it would lead to a crazed bird flying around in the rafters. I couldn't hang the awning on the front of the house to cool it in the summer sun because it would block the parent birds from getting to the nest.

After way more weeks than I thought it was possible for birds to sit on a nest, there were finally two big fat babies.



As of the end of last week, it appears that all birds have left the nest. (No feathers in the driveway either, so the cats didn't snag any of them.) I've been warned that sometimes birds re-use a nest for a second hatching, so I better get busy with taking it down and crafting some kind of nest blocker.

In the meantime, I did finish insulating...



As I worked on the insulation, I kept finding places in the framing that needed nailers to catch the ends of boards when I install them on the ceiling and walls. To save time later, I installed those nailers as I went.







The city Code Enforcement Officer signed off on the insulation today, so that's good.

I took delivery of a lot of pine boards (for the ceiling and walls) and some fir boards (for the bathroom). 


As the load was tipped off the back of the delivery truck, the bottom boards stuck to the flat bed and pulled themselves far out from the rest of the load. In order not to snap those boards off when the load crashed to the ground, the delivery guy propped the load in a bizarre (but effective!) fashion.



I spent the rest of that hot, humid day carefully stacking every one of those boards. There were a few moments when I thought, "Wow, these stacks are getting pretty tall; maybe I should use stickers." Note to self: When you have a nagging thought, PAY ATTENTION!


The next day, when I heard a thunderous crash, I knew just what it was. (I worried that the avalanche of boards had killed George, since one of his favorite hangout spots is in here, but he was elsewhere and just fine.)


It took me another entire hot, humid day to pull the boards out of the garage and re-stack them--with stickers.



As I work on installing plastic as a vapor barrier on the interior walls, and installing the radiant barrier (which will also serve as a vapor barrier) on the ceiling, I am beginning to stain some pine boards so I will have some ready to install on the ceiling.


I had explored the possibility of using beetle kill pine on the living-room walls. It turns out it is outrageously expensive to purchase here in Maine, since it all comes from Colorado and Wyoming, so I nixed the idea and purchased regular pine. I couldn't get the idea out of my mind, though; I think it's that pretty! (Have you seen it? Check out these images.) So, I have been experimenting with creating my own faux beetle kill pine effect with a custom blue-gray stain, and white milk paint used as a whitewash or pickling on top. Something like this maybe?



For those more interested in news of the river...

It's still here!



The sturgeon are jumping. I hear their loud belly-flop smacks up at the house all the time, and I occasionally see one poised high in the air over the water.

I hear eagles every day, and see them often. There are at least a few of them living right around my house this summer.




We had some extreme rainstorms this spring. In all 26 of the years I have lived here, I have never before seen this kind of erosion occur as a result of one rainstorm. Bizarre, dramatic, dangerous.



For those of you more interested in the cats...

Cat (Bear) sleeping in the woods on a hot day.


At first glance, this next shot looks like George sleeping in the driveway.


It's really a dead-to-the-world George in the foreground...


...and interloper tuxedo cat hanging out with Bear up on the drain field.


I will finish with a small gallery of George--who turns 18 this summer. He appears to be quite deaf at this point, which puts him at a distinct disadvantage because things can creep up on him. In fact, he was attacked by a fox (yes, a fox!) as he lounged on our deck. I was home at the time, heard the commotion and ran to the door, just in time to scare off a fox. George did not appear to be injured, and he still wants to spend all his time outside, so I just hope he keeps his wits and sharp claws ready. He still is able to channel his former alpha self when it's needed, thank goodness. And he still likes to go on walks with me.

[Side note: I felt like wildlife was invading my life this spring. Bird nests everywhere. Fox attack. Eagles screeching every day. Startled a porcupine sleeping in the garage one day when I went to take out the mower. Three strange cats (tuxedo cat, marmalade cat, and tiger cat) spend a lot of time in the yard--sometimes "hanging" with my cats, other times fighting with my cats. Startled a skunk on my deck one night--yes, who sprayed, thank you very much. When taking compost out to the compost bin, I regularly startle deer who are grazing on top of the drain field--and they startle me back. I spent eight weeks covered in a rash caused by caterpillar hairs that had me digging my skin raw. Thankfully, things seem to have calmed down a little these last few weeks. It was just exhausting!]






When I heard George make a cat-fighting sound one morning a few weeks ago, I immediately went running. I thought maybe a fox was after him again. Instead, this is what I saw. Now, keep in mind that George hasn't caught a creature in forever. I never see him stalking or catching anything any more. Back when he did hunt, he did it silently. So, for him to make a fighting sound means that either something attacked him or startled him. I think this stupid squirrel touched a soundly-sleeping George, and this is what he got for his trouble.


The squirrel ordeal wore George out so completely, he didn't leave this spot on the deck for the entire next day!